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Peer Assisted Learning (PAL)

A student-led initiative to help you transition into your first year of university life

PAL is an initiative led by students for students. PAL sessions are designed to provide you with an opportunity to develop the independent study skills required for successful university study, discuss course content with your peers, ask questions about university life, and build friendships in a safe environment. 

PAL sessions are informal and only available to you in your first year.

PAL group work session 11 (2)

Can I have a bit more information on what PAL is?


Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) is an initiative which sees second and third year students (also known as PAL Leaders) facilitate first year sessions. Sessions are held every two weeks and are designed to help with the development of your academic study skills and provide insight into adjusting to life at university. Sessions are student led meaning you get to choose what your PAL session focuses on.

PAL has a number of researched benefits for students who attend regularly, which you can find out about in the "What are the benefits to me?" tab. 

PAL sessions are available for first year students only across all degree programmes.

What are the benefits to me?

Research has shown that PAL can have the following benefits to students who attend regularly. However, PAL does not replace lectures. PAL is useful for ALL student regardless of grades or academic ability. 

How do I get involved?

All your PAL sessions will appear on your individual timetables. You simply need to turn up! 

What are the long-term benefits of PAL?

When you start university, you are probably not thinking about your second or third year. You might not even be sure what to expect from your first year. But longer term, attending your PAL sessions will feed into your wider academic study skills that you can use to tackle, and succeed in university work, assignments and also later into your career. Many students attend PAL expecting instant results, learning doesn’t work like that, it is a continual on-going process with no fixed end point. If you attend your PAL sessions with this in mind, it can really help with the mindset shift required to not just survive but really thrive within your university career.

Who are PAL leaders?

PAL leaders are students that have successfully completed their first year, which makes them an expert! We know that sometimes the best individuals to help people are those who have been through it already! Our PAL leaders receive training in how to facilitate PAL sessions and are recruited due to their enthusiasm and passion for helping others succeed.

Would you like to become a PAL leader?

So, what does a PAL leader do?

PAL leaders work in pairs to plan and facilitate sessions for first year students. PAL sessions are informal and of a workshop style devised to be fun and interactive to encourage group work and discussions.

PAL leaders report that being a PAL leader is fun and rewarding in a variety of ways, and enjoy the challenges it can present.

The role includes:

  • Attending PAL training where you will develop the skills you need to not only run successful PAL sessions but that are also useful for future employment 

  • Leading first year students on a fortnightly basis for one hour

  • Planning your sessions using a range of interactive activities suitable for small group learning

  • Attending debrief sessions led by Senior PAL Leaders and Academic Coordinators

  • Access to the PAL community on BlackBoard Learn for important updates and a forum to share any ideas, feedback, or queries

  • Communicating and marketing your sessions with first year students to promote attendance and aid session planning

We take a very flexible and understanding approach to the demands of student life but we expect PAL leaders to complete the duties of their role with a professional attitude.

I’m interested, are there any other benefits to being a PAL leader?

Yes! There are loads!

  • Your hours worked contribute to the Brunel Volunteers Award and the Brunel+ Award which will be added to your HEAR (for more information click here)- Employers love this stuff

  • Develop and demonstrate skills such as leadership, teamwork, communication, and time management 

  • Have an opportunity to share your own experiences with students

  • Have fun

  • Free PAL Leader hoody and other gifts

  • End of year party

  • Opportunity to apply to become a paid Senior PAL Leader

  • Meet people from your course

PAL Leader Conference

PAL leaders are also given the opportunity to apply to attend the National PAL Leader Conference. Leaders and staff attend from all over the UK, Ireland, and Europe and it is a great opportunity to share knowledge, make new friends, and develop important skills for leadership. In the past, students from Brunel have attended conferences at the University of Bath, Bournemouth University, and Cork Institute of Technology.

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Sounds great, how do I apply? 

Want to be a PAL Leader?

Click here to access the application form to become a PAL Leader for the 2024/2025 academic year

Already been a PAL leader? 

The Senior PAL leader (SPL) role is a paid position and provides students who have previously been PAL leaders with a new opportunity to continue their professional development. SPLs have more responsibilities such as observing PAL sessions to ensure our high standards are maintained and running debrief sessions for PAL leaders.

Key tasks performed by a Senior PAL leader include:

  • Supporting the successful delivery of the PAL leader training event
  • Performing observations of PAL leaders during their sessions
  • Working together with other SPLs to facilitate debrief sessions

Recruitment for Senior PAL leaders takes place in Term 3. If you are finishing your year as a PAL leader or have previously been a PAL leader you can apply for the position once advertised via the JobShop website.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is PAL available for students other than first years?

PAL is only available for first years.

Are PAL sessions compulsory?

PAL sessions are not compulsory but there is a positive correlation between PAL attendance and attainment.

Can my PAL leader proofread my assignment?

PAL Leaders will not proofread assignments, nor will they provide you with the answers to assignment questions. PAL is about helping you develop your own independent learning.  

If you need further help with academic skills or content queries it is recommended that you speak with your lecturers or personal tutor, or look to book an appointment with an Academic Skills Adviser who can help you with your writing and learning or maths and statistics questions. (for more information click here)

Do PAL leaders teach academic course content?

No, they facilitate sessions to help you develop your own study skills and make discoveries for yourself.

What do you mean by facilitate sessions?

PAL leaders help to guide you to find answers and to make discoveries for yourself (the basis of independent learning). As a facilitator they work to make the learning process easier for you because they have already ‘been there, done that’. Independent learning is a skillset needed to study at university level, but is one that many first year students can struggle with. PAL sessions are therefore designed to directly and indirectly help you to develop the skills you need to succeed, skills which are needed not just in the first year but throughout your university career and onwards.

PAL Video cover
PAL Video cover

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Learn more about PAL